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Name: In re N.O.
Case #: D074064
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/30/2019

Termination of jurisdiction was proper where minor’s counsel did not show conditions still existed that would justify the court’s initial assumption of jurisdiction over the minor. Following mother’s arrest at the border for smuggling marijuana, the minor was placed by a California juvenile court with grandmother in Mexico. Mother returned to Mexico and participated in services through the Mexican Agency, DIF. The services were ordered and overseen by the juvenile court and the Agency in San Diego. The minor was returned to mother’s care. After a domestic violence incident between mother and the minor’s father, the Agency recommended additional services. Several months later, the Agency recommended termination of jurisdiction pursuant to Section 364(c). A DIF social worker had assessed mother and minor, and reported the minor was doing well in her care. Mother had completed all her services ordered by the Agency. However, minor’s counsel opposed termination of jurisdiction, noting that the Agency had no recent contact with mother, and DIF had been unresponsive regarding whether it had provided the domestic violence services. The juvenile court found that minor failed to show that conditions still existed that would justify the court’s initial assumption of jurisdiction over her, and terminated jurisdiction. On appeal, minor’s counsel contended that the juvenile court’s finding was not supported by substantial evidence. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the test to be applied is not whether substantial evidence supports the termination of jurisdiction, but whether the minor can show by undisputed facts that the juvenile court erred as a matter of law when it terminated jurisdiction over the minor. Under section 364, the juvenile court determines whether the dependency should be terminated based on the totality of the evidence, including the reports of the social worker. Here, the social worker reported that the minor was close to her mother, and that mother had been able to provide a safe, loving environment for the minor. The evidence also showed that mother had separated and moved away from father. The fact that minor and mother had fallen out of touch with the Agency was not proof that the conditions giving rise to the dependency action still existed. The minor did not satisfy her burden of proof to show those conditions still existed. Thus, the juvenile court’s order terminating jurisdiction was proper.